A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players are trying to do right by their friends, but are also trying to get revenge.
Positive Role Models
Player is trying to get revenge by doing illegal things. Players also disobey the police, and will even knock them off the road.
Ease of Play
Uses traditional racing game controls, has three difficulty options.
Violence & Scariness
While there are violent car crashes, they are shown in movie-style slo-mo: You never see driver being injured; no blood, gore.
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Products & Purchases
Game features real-life cars, might entice players to buy said cars. Players can also set side bets for races. Lots of logos.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Need for Speed Payback is a racing game that's safe for all but the youngest gamers, though parents might want to talk to teenagers who either just started driving or will be soon to explain how this game differs from real-life driving. Especially since this game has you racing real cars on city streets at unsafe speeds, as well as off-road vehicles on dirt paths, along with trying to outrun the police. While there are violent car crashes, you never see the driver being injured, and thus there's no blood or gore. There are also opportunities to set side wagers for events. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.
Is It Any Good?
Though it's a noticeable improvement over the previous model, this illegal street racing game is neither the best seen from the series, nor this year's best driving game. In Need for Speed Payback, you play as a former street racer trying to rebuild your reputation -- and your friendships with your former crew. Which is really just an excuse to do a ton of illegal street races, off-road contests, and cool movie-style stunts. Just be careful, as the whole "illegal" thing might draw the attention of the local police, who you'll then have to knock out of the way or just outrun.
The thing is, while the racing is solid, and the stunt work is unique and challenging -- thanks to the game's solid controls and twisty tracks -- the boring characters and their clichéd dialogue makes the story stuff rather tiresome. This is reinforced when they start yapping away in the middle of a race. Also, since the game seems to be set on a holiday Sunday when everyone's out of town, the roads are rather empty, thus eliminating the fun and challenge of having to weave in and out of traffic. Competing in races can also turn into a grind, as they quickly become a matter of completing a number of races just to get the right parts to advance the story. All of which makes this game feel like it's trying to be Forza Horizon 3 but isn't even up to the first one of those games. Still, if you've enjoyed previous installments of this racing series, you'll have a thrilling ride with Need for Speed Payback.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.